Everyone at some point in their life will be the victim of wrongdoing. Whether it was perpetrated by an individual, a community, or even a business, the reaction will remain the same.
Anger and frustration are the most common responses to perceived injustices. While these emotions are certainly valid, and expected, when harboured for a prolonged period of time they will only cause negative impacts to your general wellbeing and livelihood.
As Anne Lammot wrote in her novel Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith (1999): “In fact, not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” Therefore, the only way to find peace after such an event is to learn how to forgive, and learn how to let go.
Forgiveness is hard
Forgiveness can be one of the hardest things to do – especially if the actions against you were of a serious nature, or offended you deeply. It is important, however, to note that forgiveness does not mean you are condoning what happened to you.
This is a common misconception.
Forgiveness is actually about accepting what happened to you and letting go of the negative thoughts of vengeance or retaliation that may have built up. Forgiveness is not about excusing the perpetrator’s behaviour, or minimising the gravity of the situation. Instead, what you are doing is saying: “Yes, this happened to me, it hurt, but in order to progress, I need to move on.”
Steps to take toward forgiveness
There are a variety of steps you can take to assist you in reaching this conclusion. Firstly, consider how your anger about the incident is impacting you. If it’s damaging the quality of your life, unfortunately, the only person you’ll be hurting by harbouring these feelings is you.
Understanding this is an integral step in the process as you’ll realise that your state of mind is self-destructive and not in any way progressive or beneficial. After you let go of the anger and resentment, you can start to examine why the perpetrator caused you harm.
It will be easier to forgive them if you adopt the mindset (while not excusing them) that they committed the act not because they wanted to cause you harm, but because they cannot deal with their shortcomings and struggles as a human being and therefore lash out at others.
Once you’ve done this, the only thing left to do is forgive, move out of the victim mindset, and move forward with your life.
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